Changing the family diet – lunch

changing the family diet

Through out this year I have been sharing how I have changed the family’s diet meal by meal. You can find my other posts here:

Lunch has proved the biggest challenge for me in some ways, mainly weekend lunches. During the week as I make food for the kids’ lunches I have much greater say in what they eat. On the weekend things are more free flowing and the kids who are old enough make their own lunches the majority of the time.

Weekend lunches

Back when I ate a far more processed diet, I ate a lot of bread. My staple for lunch as I have mentioned before, was two peanut butter and cheese toasted sandwiches. With white bread. As such the only bread bought into the house was bakery white bread, occasionally white bread with chia seeds, but usually your standard white loaf. As a consequence my kids have been accustomed to eating white bread. Even though I no longer eat bread, the kids and husband still do.

Sandwiches, toasties or toast are pretty common on the weekend for my kids to make themselves for lunch. So the weekend lunches was were I tried to make the biggest change. I decided that I would no longer buy white bread opting for a whole meal or seed based bread instead.

The first few weekends there were some minor complaints, but after about a month, bread was turing into a huge issue in the house. My husband who still eats bread would buy white bread when he was doing the shopping, I continued to buy wholemeal and it became this whole thing were I was the baddie buying “healthy food” and there dad was awesome buying white bread.

When it comes to food and the kids I have always tried to make it not an issue. Not something we fight over, use as reward or force kids to eat. It was becoming very clear to me that my stance on bread was creating these issues.

Things couldn’t continue the way they were. On the whole the kids have accepted the changes I have made to the household food without complaint, amongst other things they have:

  • Switched to real butter (from the processed spreadable version)
  • Switched to A2 milk
  • Cut out pasta from once or twice a week to once or twice a month
  • Cut out packaged breakfast cereals
  • Enjoying grain and sugar free lunch box treats as well as the old standard favourites (containing sugar and gluten)
  • Switched to homemade seasonings, gravies and sauces
  • Switched to coconut oil as our main cooking oil

So I gave in and we have white bread in the house. In my ideal world this wouldn’t be the case, but I didn’t want a loaf of bread to be the cause of angst between me and the 16 and 13 year olds. For me, I weighed up how important this was given their level of consumption, compared to the amount of disharmony it was causing. But I haven’t given up completely though and will try again next year. Sometimes change needs to be more gradual.

Tips for parents of younger kids – get them off white bread when they are young!

School lunches

I have always baked for school lunches, but this year I became far more organised with my preparation meaning that the kids have been able to take home baked lunches pretty much every day. Once the white bread equation came into it, it gave me great incentive to make sure there was plenty of food for the lunches each day so they older boys wouldn’t need to make sandwiches.

As well as making more homemade food, the focus of the food I make has changed. Thanks to helpful advice from nutritionist Katie Rainbird, I have wisened up to the need for there to be a solid source of protein in the kids’ lunch boxes and being mindful of the overall macronutrient composition.

It has been great to talk about this with the kids and to watch them start to observe their own experiences with how the food they eat fuels. We talk about how the lunch box needs to have protein, fats and carbs and talk about the difference between the fats for example in avocado compared to the fats in a packet of potato chips.

The bigger boys in particular, who need to pull their lunch box together themselves, now notice the difference if protein is missing. If they don’t like the baked item I have made, choose not to take it and make themselves something like a sandwich with a simple spread vegemite or peanut butter instead, they find they are voraciously hungry when they get home from school. They are learning from experience that they need to either add some tuna, egg or meat in their sandwich or put some hard boiled eggs or left over meats into the lunch box as well.

Protein based items for the school lunch box

The following is a list of ideas for items for the school lunch boxes that are protein based. They are gluten and nut free.

Those marked with an * can only be found on the Planning With Kids 2015 Lunch Box Calendar.

How do you approach lunches for the kids?


  1. says

    Well you may have just crushed my dreams on the white bread side of things. :)
    My son who is 2 and a half has white bread for his sandwiches and is extremely fussy so not going to battle it. In the back of my mind I have always thought once he gets to school I will attempt to move away from it but sounds like it is going to continue to be a battle for many years to come.

    • says

      Don’t be disheartened Karin! If I had my time over I would make the change earlier. With the 16 and 13 year old it became a battle of power/control. When you have other bigger issues they challenge you with at this age, I needed to cut my losses for this stage.

      Perhaps when he goes to kinder, say that all they are allowed at kinder is wholemeal bread? Our kinder had a great nutrition policy, which the kids accepted.


  2. jode says

    great post … it is heartening to know that other families (that seem to have everything going very smoothly!) have battles over such a basic thing as white bread. I have been having the same battle with my teens and younger ones – and reading this has made me rethink my position… thank you.

  3. Corrin says

    I got in early. My kids have only had white bread a couple of times in their life, and probably didn’t notice. I have made my bread for a long time (mostly Laucke) which is in Coles for about 8$ makes 4 loaves, by hand or I used a mixer with dough hook. Easy, but takes all morning.
    Then after having kids I thought I deserved a lazy bread maker. Now I just buy my own flour in large bags. That way I know what goes in it.

    Nicole, for your next attempt, perhaps try making your own, with say half white flour and half rye or whatever you like to ease the kids into it. Try a bread maker, it’s so easy the kids can do it. It takes me less than 2 minutes to set a loaf in, press start and off it goes.

  4. Michelle says

    My kids have only had wholemeal bread but there was a stage when they wanted white bread to be like the other kids, so I made chequerboard sandwiches – one piece wholemeal and the other white! the novelty wore off and eventually I won!